What’s the difference: malware, viruses, worms, spyware, trojans, ransomware, etc.?
What is Ransomware?
Ransom means ransom in English, and in fact what he does is hijack data from a computer and ask for a financial ransom in exchange for his release. Usually what he does is encrypt your data, and what you are offered in exchange for the ransom is the key to decrypt it.
This type of program can access your computer on the back of a computer worm or other type of malware, and once it has encrypted your data it will block your computer by showing you a warning screen informing you that you have been a victim of the attack. This screen also shows you the amount to pay and the method of payment, which can be by SMS, Paypal or bitcoins.
This is one of the fastest growing threats in recent years, so it is important to keep your computer always updated and to follow a series of precautions when dealing with suspicious emails or messages, always avoiding installing anything that is sent to you by people you do not know.
Another piece of advice that almost all computer security experts agree on is that you should try to never pay the ransom that is asked of you. By doing so, you allow criminals to get away with it, and encourage them to continue using this type of program. The easiest way to combat this is to always have up-to-date backups of your databases and format the affected computers by collecting them later with these copies.
The word malware comes from English, and is the term resulting from the union of the words ‘malicious software’. Malware is a type of software that aims to infiltrate or damage a computer or information system without the consent of its owner.
Therefore, malware is the main term used to speak of all computer threats. Within this category we already have different classifications that are much more specific to threats, such as Trojans, worms, computer viruses, adware, spyware or ransomware among others.
The Trojan has some similarities with computer viruses, but their operation is not exactly the same. While a virus is usually destructive, a Trojan tries to slip through unnoticed while accessing your device with the intention of executing hidden actions to open a back door for other malicious programs to access.
However, one of the commonalities among several types of malware is that Trojans will also come to you disguised as legitimate files. They will do so with executables that appear to do nothing wrong when used, but will soon start working behind your back without you noticing.
Their name is that of the mythical Trojan Horse from Homer’s Odyssey, which the story says was used to deceive the defenders of Troy. In the same way, this malware enters your computer camouflaged as a legitimate program, and once inside it makes a hole in your defenses so that other programs or types of malware have a place to enter.
Unlike the computer worms we told you about, Trojans do not spread themselves. You can get infected with one deliberately, but it can also be found in P2P networks and other sites with seemingly harmless executable applications. They are often used, among other things, to steal information without your consent through that back door.
The computer worm is another of the most common types of malware on the network, and its main difference with computer viruses is that it does not require user intervention or modification of any existing file to infect a computer. Otherwise, it has the characteristic of replicating itself to spread through the networks to which a device is connected.
When it manages to penetrate a computer, the worm tries to obtain the addresses of other computers from your contact lists to send them copies and try to infect them as well. They don’t have to manipulate any programs or make the computer malfunction, which makes them a little harder to detect.
To do this it is recommended that you check resources that might be consuming such as RAM, something that will make ordinary tasks excessively slow. If you have one, you may also find that your computer has been sending out messages without your permission via email or social networks.
What is a computer virus?
A computer virus is a type of malware whose purpose is to alter the proper functioning of a device. It does this by infecting the files on a computer with malicious code, and its main feature is that it requires user intervention to be executed. The moment it takes control with the aim of infecting a computer and spreading.
Although the first computer virus appeared in 1971, it was not until the 1980s that the term was officially adopted. This name is due to its resemblance to biological viruses that infect a cell, and this in turn spreads the virus to the rest of the cells of an organism.
There are different types of viruses, from those that are simple jokes made with the sole function of annoying to others that can seriously damage your computer by deleting files that directly affect its operation. In any case, their common point is that they all modify the normal behaviour of a computer.
Viruses are usually totally transparent. They do not hide, but usually travel within executable files such as Windows .exe. However, they can do so with the names of other applications in an attempt to trick you into running the program.
This is another type of program that installs itself on your computer or through the interaction of a second application that launches it without you noticing. They often work on the sly trying to hide their trail so that you can raise your guard and act normally.
Their purpose is to collect information about the user or organization that owns a computer in an unauthorized way. So that they are not detected, these programs monitor and collect data about the actions performed on a computer, the content of the hard drive, the applications installed or everything they do on the Internet. They can also install other applications.
Adware is a rather controversial and difficult to catalogue type of program. Some consider it to be a kind of spyware, while others claim it cannot even be considered malware because its ultimate intention is not to harm mainframe computers.
Its only mission is to get into your computer and start showing you advertisements, either while you are surfing the Internet, as a popup at random times or while running a program. There are even those who simply replace the advertising on a website with their own, with which its creators can make a profit.
Usually, this type of software is installed in programs that are then spread for free as a source of income for their creators. The reason why some people consider them spyware is because some of them can collect and send your personal data.